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tv   BOOK TV  CSPAN  October 22, 2016 3:30pm-4:01pm EDT

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she realized that the utopia that is often presented to us and the technology industry wants is really something geared towards robots and not human beings. i will end it there. thank you. thanks very much. [applause]. we will be back at 3:00. that was author nicholas carr. life of medicine. there is more live coverage of the wisconsin book festival.
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we want to show you another interview from this last year. we want to introduce you to university of wisconsin professor. what do you do here i teach math. and you also write books how not to be wrong mathematics is not settled. what did you mean i thought math was certainty.
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this one plus one equals two at all times. >> we can agree on that. it's many thousands of years home. there has never been a culture of civilization without math. we are still wrestling with the questions. it's been in the news lately we had known for thousands of years that there are many prime members. they can't be factors. the basic of atoms if you would like.
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but here's the crazy things we don't know five and seven there only two apart. we don't know if there implement flea -- infinitely more primes. people have wondered for hundreds of years. a couple of years ago. >> what does it matter if we know what prime numbers are or are not. here's what we know about math. it seems to described the basic describe the basic structure of the way things are. as a get a belt a better missile. probably not. and i would not actually be
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allowed to type if it was. but history has shown us that somehow advances in math always bring with them great advances. are constantly using things that are developed by mathematicians purely for the sake of understanding. not with any idea of practical applications. >> where did you come up with a title how not to be wrong? >> i have a title for a long time. it's probably another reference. about how not to be seen. it was about how to hide and if you didn't hide they would explode them with a bomb. it's a very typical kind of the british humor. the real reason for that title is because i want people to
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think about mathematics not as this kind of sterile series which to be quite honest for many people that is very interaction as well. and every technique we have it was created to solve a problem. they were confused about something. it wanted to be less confused. they take these things to talk about what problems they were originally four. and to go back to history when do people not understand this. why do they want to understand and what was it like to process it and figure it out. >> what does this theory solve. >> and actually was pretty practical right from the start.
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if you want to physically build the structure to actually stand up straight. you actually do need to know what they need and how much would. that is less than most of the stuff i work on in my day job. >> you tell the story in your book about abraham who was he. it was kind of an amazing story. he was a guy and he was actually in the purest kind appear he grows up and hungry and then is working in austria and then in the 30s when they take off they have to leave. if to get up quickly.
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and during world war ii he is working at this top-secret math and statistic lab. it was actually in manhattan. all of these very famous things. we have noticed something funny the planes that are coming back there are more bullet holds in some part of them than others. can hit more we want to know how much more armor should be used on the plaintiffs -- places. this was a real question because you don't want to put too much on them.
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maybe there's some kind of mathematical formula you can give us. and they have it completely wrong if to put the armor where there are no borders. why are you telling me to do the exact opposite. it is not that the germans can't hit their planes on the engines it's at the planes they got hit are not coming back from germany. this is a random sample. they are seen the once the don't get shot in and it didn't get shot down. what is interesting about this is that he didn't actually give them the kind of answer they were expecting. he did not give them a spreadsheet or a number. nonetheless, what he did was
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deeply mathematical it is not just about numbers. is not just for understanding it's about taking a question and asking what assumptions underwrite that question. and given the answers to questions is pretty easy. but asking the right question that is profound and that's what mathematical thinking is really about. >> in your book you also talk about the curve. is it mathematically defensible. the story probably not a true story but it's too good not to tell anyway. it was drawn on a napkin. he was a well-known conservative economist during the reagan administration. what it's meant to depict how high should taxes be. there are two extremes if your
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tax rate is zero and you don't tax people at all then the government will not get tax money. let's say the tax rate was 100% every single penny you earned gets taken in taxes then no one will work. the government also gets no revenue. your% tax rate no revenue. somewhere in between has to go up and then down. that's the mathematical effect. a curve has to have a maximum somewhere in between. some optimal rate. what he believed if imagine that virtual black board here. increasing taxes would actually bring government revenue down instead of up. they are probably wrong about that. that's but they mostly thought.
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he was wrong about where we were in the curve but he was right about the general picture that there is some way to taxation which is so high that increasing it further reduces the amount of taxes and that the government actually gets. he is often thought that. how is it that stephen tinker comes up in your book how not to be wrong. he's a very interesting guy. he comes from the social scientist that he's very mathematically inflicted. i was struck by his most recent book which is very quantitative in nature and he writes about the fact that in many ways for all of the terrible things that we see in the news every day after turn the front page over.
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for all of this he argues that it's actually much safer and more pleasant and quieter and peaceful now than ever has been in human history. and one part of his argument is to say that while we have these kinds of horrible events on a global scale the world is much bigger now. so in terms of the percentage of the world's people who are killed or otherwise injured there are things that happened a lot time ago. quite a bit worse. i think this leaves a very interesting question which is do you think the calamity that killed 10,000 people in a world where population was 100 million is a same thing as a calamity that kills let's say hundred thousand people in the world of population ten times as big. it's the same percentage of the world population. this is kind of an interesting question because it mixes both math.
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it's not a question that we can actually answer my math alone. you can't answer the question without them part thinking quantitatively. what are you doing if you try to measure the scale of some kind of disaster whether it be a natural disaster or a war. how much is that worse in dead americans. that chapter is it refers to the very common practice when something bad happens it's a foreign place they say that the island is a population of 20,000. and it tends to displace a thousand of them who live in a low-lying region.
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they would say that as a same is as a 50 million americans were displaced. how much of that is debt. for american audience to actually take something and say what is the equivalent thing in american research. it's a say that's a same like 500 americans is a great example at least to me it was 500 american lives. you can do that in the spreadsheet. you're like is that what i really wanted to say.
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it's a great example of the mathematical thing has to hand in hand. i noticed that the point of your book when you talk about line you think about those who are really tried to pull the wool over your eyes. let me tell you at take at the breakfast table with me you were here probably every day. i think that i things that i just ruled out. i would say a large majority of the type time is not some intentionally been dishonest. it's something that has pulled themselves. in they find a way to elicit
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some kind of data to their cause is that because they're trying to cheat you it's because they are cheating themselves. we talked today a political issue is income inequality. how do you look at that. i think a really interesting question is how do you measure the quality is as this one more unequal than that one. how has inequality changed. here at least at least to the best of my knowledge if you compare the 90 seats united states up-to-date with the united states that i grew up in i don't think there's any dispute that our society is more economical.
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that was pretty clear. >> if someone sits down so they two hours or ten hours. it took me about four seconds. i think it was such a tough case they have mathematical feelings about it. i think everybody knows it was not a wise investment. it probably played blackjack with it.
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it leads to what i write about in the book especially. just plain in the lottery. it's not quite as glamorous. it is incredibly popular and distributed throughout the country. what is 70 people do it. i write a lot of the crazy story. and i write about a lottery. that is a very unusual situation. there can lose on average most of the time. i think they would say that people actually enjoy playing the lottery. they played because they hope to win but in some sense it is
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certainly a big part it's obviously could they quantify. how many dollars is that worth. they do plan on treating dollars for fun all the time. people are certainly making these kind of judgments all the time. some people ask people and disliked gambling because they don't like the suspenseful
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feeling of being unsafe. it's quite standard in economics. the signed numerical values to all of these things. the baltimore stockbroker. when you come up at that and who is he. it is a figure of mathematical folklore i will explain how it works. here's what happens. you get in the mail a newsletter from a stock tipper. i've a great tip for you. so we know it's good to go up. i don't know exactly how old it is. you read this and you assume is a scam. you look at the news cap paper and you see that stock did go up. you said interesting you see
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that justice has gone down. another because by you get another tip. ten weeks in a row this guy predicts the motion. you are ready to give your eye -- at this guy your life savings. making us with going on. >> what do you know about the story. on the first day when you got that newsletter he actually sent out a thousand newsletters. 500 of them said they were getting up 500 is that it was can go down. they never hear from them again. tuna 50 people get a tip that
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is up and down. that guy is covering all the bases. ten weeks later it's probably gotten just you. he was completely convinced and all he needs is one. all they need is one sucker on the line. what this symbolizes you can't always make a good impact. not only what you observed but also what you did it observe. it's amazing. how can they get this stock tips collected in a row. if you have a thousand chances you can do that.
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it is the word of the day. i think about this a lot. we could do another hour. it's not so much that is big if i want to add up a trillion members that's no more difficult than adding up to numbers what is interesting we have it from social networks they have it from god knows where. is not just that it's big it's that it is structured. how did you invest a new kind
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of statistic as we go? >> the old methods are just not suitable. no were trying to figure out how to view it. it's actually incredibly exciting time when there's so many new problems just try to figure out how to make sense of the spreadsheet. the human brain cannot do that. that's not what it's built to do. we have to figure out how to interpret those numbers and we don't know yet. is not magic. i think a lot of people well have an interest in making it sound like we really understand how to deal with that and make good inferences from it. anything we do yet. we've been talking with the mathematics professor. how not to be wrong.
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the power of mathematical thinking. this is book tv on location. the tv on c-span two from the annual wisconsin book festival. will be back in just a few minutes. for complete schedule of author events. follow us on twitter and on facebook.
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we're live. the state capital of wisconsin. and we are here with the book festival. tell us a little bit about what we are to see today. >> we will see 12 hours of live book events. it really runs the gamut. up through the deposits. this is the fourth festival. about three cap years we already have are working on next year. and honey decide on what authors you want and what is the process.
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is there a book and is there an audience. i spent a lot of time working with medical communities and working with publishers to see what will be interesting to the nation as a whole. is there a competition to get these authors you have to go to the publishers i don't really think there's a competition. i think they're great because you can bring some people to gather just here in the library with five other venues throughout town i think the originality of festivals makes for authors that want to get out. publishers understand that. >> tell me a little bit about the venue that we are in. it's a relatively new space. he opened the central branch in late 2013.
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the city really invested in making this a gathering point. they are one of the reasons why at the madison public library home of the wisconsin book festival. topping the list is the executive director of the equal justice initiative brian stephenson just mercy. the late narrow surgeon contemplates mortality when breath becomes air. followed by the life-changing magic of following up. and being immortal. there is an end-of-life care. and national book award winner gives his thoughts on the current state of black america and between the world and me. at the madison public library. they remember going up in an
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hillbilly elegy be. it's followed by the spark joy. the rainbow comes and goes. it's a look at some of the most borrowed books.
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>> good afternoon. soak up deeply humbled. i am deeply honored and deeply humbled to have the altar of introducing jeff chang this morning. i know many of you who are here know his work also of "can't stop won't stop, who we be". my work is so very inspired by jeff's previous work in everything from "can't stop won't stop, who we be" and his essays and articles and he has sort of the completed a trifecta with this new book, "we gon' be alright". so, "we gon' be alright"'s prerogative


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